Mundane, but lovely, fun.

My poor parents: I’ve probably been in their apartment 12 hours since I’ve been in Charlotte, and I was sleeping 10 of those.

I’m currently in Chapel Hill in Michael’s dorm room, chilling while Michael learns some guitar from our buddy Nathan. We got here yesterday afternoon, toured (some of) the campus, ate some good deli-eqsue food, and played some sand volleyball.

Damn UNC is big compared to Rose. It’s ridiculous. We walked for a good mile or so, and didn’t even see the humanities buildings or all the residence halls. I can give a good tour of Rose (seeing labs, residence halls, gym, etc.) in a half hour, even if I run my mouth constantly. Whoo.

The sand volleyball was brutal. I fell once hard enough to bruise my ass, hurt some lower back muscles, and give myself a headache, and caught the ball once with my chin hard enough to send me checking for chipped teeth. I got sand everywhere, and was picking grains out of my mouth for the rest of the evening. The guys we played with were cool, though, and friendly even to me and Nathan, who couldn’t play for shit.

After the volleyball fiasco, we showered (individually, bien sûr) and, after piddling around with some video games, watched the first half of Bowling for Columbine before I crashed (we finished it when we woke up this afternoon). Very, very interesting movie. Moore is a manipulative guy, and it shows in the movie, but it’s a good watch nonetheless.

I’m having the time of my life, even though we aren’t doing anything extremely exciting and unusual.

Tonight I return to Charlotte, tomorrow I visit my old high school with Rackrent.

Home safe and partying.

Obviously, given that I was able to post the last entry, I am home safe. I had to leave some of my stuff with Nikolai, who’s going back to school sooner than I am and will hold my stuff there for me.

I had barely gotten my stuff in the apartment when the phone rang and Michael was asking if I was going to go over to the shindig at Jenny’s house. I grabbed my mother’s car keys and was gone, no shower, no change of clothing. Yuck, but I was anxious and excited.

Details of the shindig would be inane and odd, but one of the highlights was when all twelve of us climbed into Michael’s van in the Krispy Kreme line. Actually, the highlight was watching the people’s faces in the line as all of us got out of the van, one by one. We must have looked like some psychos.

I wanted to get an idea of everyone’s mental state, and while I did manage to get an inkling, I’m worried about some folks. It’s hard to name names, since most of them read this. I don’t feel like toeing the line between between being frank and being hella rude tonight, and I doubt I could do so successfully as tired as I am. Suffice it to say that one friend paid a little too much attention to me (maybe I’m the only one willing to listen to him at this point), one friend seemed a little too uncomfortable with herself, and about three folks are sitting on some dark shit that two of them are for sure going to spit out before this week is up. Or arms will be twisted.

So there’s my to-do list for the next month. I’m honestly looking forward to fixing other folks’ problems for a while.

And I’m ridiculously glad that my mother doesn’t go many places and doesn’t mind me stealing her car. Dodge Intrepids have quite the kick, and very nice stereos…

Off the road

(Written Friday, May 28, 19:38 Rose-Hulman time)

You ever lay in bed at the end of a day and as you look back, wonder if everything that happened actually happened to you?

I told Nikolai last night [the night before we left] that I suspected something bad would happen on this trip with Johnny.

Nikolai and I departed the Haute around 10:00 this morning, cars loaded, everything set. Things went well until I almost got sideswipped off the road by a semi just past Indianapolis.

I stopped to take a piss break and calm my nerves just after that.

Kept driving, waved at exit 16 on I-65 (where, if memory serves, Luke lives), and headed on into Louisville. Made it as far as the bridge over the Ohio (??) River before I had to leave a layer of rubber on the ground when the car in front of me, who had absolutely no brake lights, slammed to a stop. He swerved, and I missed eating the back end of his car for lunch.

We stopped shorty after that for another piss break and some dry heaves from nerves.

Fueling up here revealed that my car was leaking oil visibly. So I filled him up with the oil that I had, and we set off again, planning to make frequent stops to refill. Called the folks and let them know what was up.

The next stop, probably 20 miles down the road, revealed the leakage was accelerating. There happened to be a Firestone right behind the gas station, so the guy crawled under (free of charge!) and found out that my “rear main” (an oil seal) was gone. Repairs would be expensive. The transmission would have to be moved back, then the oil pan (and surrounding bits) taken apart, the seal put in, then all of it put back. His recommendation was to just stop every hour or so and fill up on oil so I could make it back to Charlotte.

Around this time, I started noticing the transmission problems. When I pressed on the gas, the engine would rev up, then after a few seconds, jerk forward and begin to move. At first, it was only at low speeds, so I figured that once I got up to speed on the highway, I could cruise until I needed to stop again.

We stopped in Frankfurt (10 miles from where the Firestone guy looked at my car), and bought a 5 quart thing of oil.

Enter Berea, Kentucky. It’s been about an hour since Frankfurt, but I wanted to go just a little bit further, despite the growing transmission problems. I’m barely able to keep speed on the highway, and I’m having to stay in the right lane in case I suddenly lose the damn thing and need to get off the road.

We stopped in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. I’d been panting in panic since I almost ate that car in Louisville, my stomach was in knots, my head was throbbing, and I was shaking constantly from the fear my car was going to die on a highway full of traffic and with a speed limit of 65 miles per hour. We pulled into the local gas station. My car was smoking from burning off the leaking oil (which had splattered Nikolai’s windshield), and the transmission was just about gone.

I called the parents, told them I wasn’t sure Johnny was going to make it to Knoxville. They made sure I could get a hotel room, and got ready to come get me.

My car could not make it out of the gas station to get to the hotel. I put it in reverse to pull out of the spot, and if it moved, it moved forward. Finally got it to back up, and couldn’t get it to go across the ridiculously busy intersection. All it had to do was cross the street. Literally.

We pushed it back into the parking lot, and a law enforcement guy (from Wildlife, I believe) called a wrecker for us. Nikolai and I unloaded his stuff into the hotel room, then moved my stuff into his car and over to the hotel room.

I told the wrecker driver to junk Johnny.

The oil seal problem was going to be the last problem I was going to put up with on Johnny. We paid $1000 for him, invested another $1000 in air conditioner, etc. His book value is $1700, even though he’s 21 years old. I’d already put about $500 myself into him. Enough is enough.

Transmission problems are no joke, and that, combined with the oil seal, sealed his fate. I may have to be carless for a minute (thank fucking goodness for this research this summer, so I can start saving…), but I refuse to pour money into that car anymore.

So I am carless, sitting in Mt. Vernon, KY in a Days Inn hotel room I paid a ridiculous $82 bucks for.

3 tips to moving out of a dorm without getting a "Look" from Lissa

I would have thought these would be obvious, but given the ridiculous crap I’ve seen going on on my floor this week, apparently not.

  1. Pack as though you are the only one moving your shit out. If you can’t lift it or comfortably drag it, pack it lighter or get a dolly. Don’t assume Joe Blow Brawn is going to come along and carry that 5 feet by 5 feet by 5 feet box filled solid with books for you. Seriously, don’t inflict your packing troubles on others.
  2. If you don’t want to make the trips, don’t pack all that shit. Packrats need not bitch about the 25 trips they’ve had to make to their car. It is okay to throw some things out. Yes, you accumulate things through the year–hell, I’ve probably got twice as much stuff as I had coming in–but either suck it up and hit those three flights of stairs 15 times, hire a pack mule, or throw shit out. Your room was probably a junk-filled pig-sty all year anyway, so the last may be a good option for you. (Actually, if you could hire the pack mule for the sheer hilarity of attempting to convince it to go down the turning stairs with your stuff, it’d certainly make my year…)
  3. You are not driving a semi–rear view mirrors do serve a purpose. If you know you can’t drive for shit, but you fill your car so you can’t see out the rear view mirror, don’t be surprised when you find your license “slipped” out of your wallet just before you are due to depart. Rearrange shit in the trunk, sit on something, make your passengers walk home, whatever, but keep your junk-filled car away from my sexy beast for any highway time we may be sharing, because your blind spot just got hella large.

A rock and a hard place.

I felt very, very sad as we packed up the Thorn office yesterday. Despite my growing disillusionment and worry, what we had this year was a good thing. I’ve learned a lot about people and power-wielding and social dynamics that was only theoretical for me before. Very eye-opening. Very tiring, as well, even though it wasn’t quite tiring enough to send me scurrying back to only the technical aspects of the paper.

And it’s not just the Thorn that was being packed up yesterday. It was, in many respects, my freshman year. I’ve put a lot of energy into the Thorn this year, much to the pleasure of the higher-ups. After I moved my stuff back into my room, I found myself just sort of sitting here, wondering what to do now, as if I did something odd and different in the Thorn office when I was by myself that didn’t involve just surfing the Internet and reading news. As though I couldn’t just sit in my room and do the same thing.

It’s the typical separation issues of someone that tends to obsess. I do this everytime I fixate and am forced to take a break.

I’ve been able to skim through this year with (roughly) a 3.75 GPA (well, depending on how the chemistry grade comes out this term), and spend most of my time on the Thorn. I certainly didn’t obsess over NSBE this way–hell, they couldn’t have come up with enough work for me to do had I latched on similarly, and I don’t have the mental energy to do both with the same vigor.

The problem with this is that now that my grip has been loosened, I will probably not be able to reaffix it with anything but a shadow of my former strength unless I can take a different tack. This is just the way I operate. I see it in my old hobbies and interests, in academic interests, and in my interests in (read: geeky, stalker-esque fixations on) men. It’s not even that I dislike them after a while, or see new flaws in them–I’m just not interested anymore.

I used to envy those who can maintain a bit more balance in their lives, but I appreciate the fact that I can do a pretty good job at something by going at it hard, even if my stamina, if you will, is short. I do, however, envy those that have balance and do a damn good job. They just suck.

My initial thought was to be able to recharge during this month off. Shore up on social stuff, on geeky fun, and maybe even do a little scripting on the ol’ irrsinn dot net. Then come back with renewed energy for the Thorn. (School I always have [or make] energy for, so that’s not a concern.)

I don’t know that this will happen. Past experience shows that the odds are not in the Thorn’s favor on this one.

The question is, how okay with this am I? Supposedly, I’ve been set on a track for the editor-in-chief spot by those currently cursed with the position for most of this year, which could readily provide the “different track” for my interest. I’ve let myself be manipulated into a position where my self-doubt and fear of responsibility are heading into toe-to-toe mortal combat with my childish desire to please (and to not disappoint) and that subversive, sick desire for power. One side is playing the other and leaving me feeling like I’m on a rack. (Not that I’ve ever been on a rack, but the imagery is the key here.)

I want the editor-in-chief spot, and I’d be lying if I said right now that I didn’t. There are things I want to do. Things I think I can do, if I assemble the right team next year. I want to see if I can make things even better than they are now. I want the power to be able to publish something that has the Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs tell me that my staff just published the best issue he’s seen in the 27 years he’s been at Rose (which he said about the Hulbert issue, by the way). I want that so badly I plan for it in my sleep. There’s also a possibility for huge personal growth here if I jump on it–more than classes, research, NSBE, anything I’ve got in my palm right now can give me. I want it.

But I also don’t want to be the editor-in-chief under which the paper fails, or is only mediocre. I don’t want to be the EIC under which half the staff leaves because I can’t reign in my temper or manage the money or handle business when it needs to handled out of (believe it or not) a fear of being too bitchy. I don’t want to be the first EIC in remembered history in which an issue didn’t print. I don’t want to find myself facing serious censure from the administration because I made a shitty choice on a story to run. I don’t want to be voted out of office after only one year. I don’t want to disappoint anyone when (if) I fail to fully fill in the two pairs of size 13’s being left for me.

Why, yes, I do have issues with a desire to please. Who’da thunk it of the eViL Biz-natch, huh? Makes me ridiculously easy to manipulate, as is evidenced by my current predicament.

So this is turning ’round and ’round in my head, because unless some über-freshman comes along (or, I suppose a new non-freshman joins staff), the pickings seem to be slim for the Thorn, and it would take something pretty serious for me to leave them in quite such a lurch. Le sigh.

Time to finish packing and loading up the car. Then programming, then bed.